Islamabad: National Assembly pulls off the cyber crime bill

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Cyber crime bill

National Assembly has adopted a cyber crime bill that recommends thorough penalties for generating “fear or fright” and “stir up sectarian conflict in the country,” children under 14 are exempted from these rigorous punishments.

At this occasion, lawmakers from the opposition party and the State Minister for IT Anusha Rehman got engaged in an hour long debate over the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2016. Eventually, the bill was cleared by the National Assembly. Further the bill will be presented in the Senate.

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During the hour long debate, lawmakers from various political parties including PTI, PPP, MQM and Jamat-e-Islami proposed amendments to the proposed bill. Shazia Marri and Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Dr Shireen Mazari and Dr Arif Alvi, Raza Abidi, SA Iqbal Qadri and Ayesha Syed recommended revision over the points which were mostly included. Later, the movers of the bill wrote down some other amendments proposed by the opposition’ lawmakers.

The bill was initially introduced in the National Assembly by the IT minister Anusha Rehman in January 2015. The bill was turned to the Standing Committee on the Information Technology and Telecommunication; to deal with the concerns raised by the opposition’ lawmakers and other stakeholders. After a debate of about more than a year, as the opposition’ lawmakers had opposed that some of the provisions and penalties proposed in the bill were, highly controversial.

In Sections 17 and 18, of the cyber crime bill; political criticism and political expression in the form of analysis, commentary, blogs and cartoons, caricatures, memes, has been criminalized. Under Section 19, a person testing system security will be accounted an offender. Section 20, of the bill states that posting ‘obscene’ or ‘immoral’ messages on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and will be considered offences. This section further states that, posting photographs of any person on Facebook or Instagram, without their consent is also an offence.